You don’t have to travel far to realize that every culture and religion has its own beliefs about the food we eat. Food is vital to our survival, which is no doubt why we’ve created so many rituals and traditions around what we put in our mouths.

The approach to food some cultures and religions have can seem extreme compared to others, but these differing ideas are normally founded in the thought that we must eat an optimum diet in order to live our lives with optimum health.

The body is your temple.  Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.

~B.K.S. Iyengar, Yoga: The Path To Holistic Health

As in many cultures, the Rastafarian Ital diet is based on the spiritual belief and interpretation from Biblical references in Genesis, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, that the body is a temple and must be kept clean and pure. Therefore, the strictest Rastafarians follow what most people would recognize as a vegan, macrobiotic diet. This means they refrain from ingesting animal products, such as meat, dairy and eggs, and only eat food that is fresh, local and in season.

The Ital diet focuses on consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes, with the inspiration for Ital dishes being based in Indian and African cooking. Staple Ital foods are coconuts, bananas, callaloo (similar to spinach), pimento and coconut oil, but these foods may not be in season or local to the area where the Rastafarian lives, so staple foods can differ greatly in certain cases.



Some less strict Rastafarians do choose to eat fish. However, the size of the fish must be less than 12 inches. This is because a fish of a larger size is symbolic of the Babylonians who fed off of others.

Rastafarians who do not follow a very strict Ital diet may also choose to consume other meats, such as chicken, but shellfish and pork are unlikely to be eaten by anyone following an Ital diet. This is because these animals are scavengers and their meat is considered to be unclean and harmful to the human body.

Although there is a great deal of controversy among scientists about the effects of ingested food on the brain, no one denies that you can change your cognition and mood by what you eat.

- Arthur Winter

Processed, chemically-altered and artificial foods, including dried foods, salt and oil, are generally not consumed by those following an Ital diet because they are also believed to be destructive to the body.

It is for this same reasoning that drinks such as sodas, tea and coffee are rarely, if ever, consumed by strict Rastafarians because of their caffeine content. Herbal tea is the exception due to its low caffeine content and natural herbal properties.

Alcohol is the one substance considered forbidden in Rastafarian culture due to its destructive effects not only on the body, but also on culture and society as a whole.

Don’t dig your grave with your knife and fork.

- English Proverb

When it comes to ensuring food is as natural as possible, some Rastafarians go as far as refraining from using metal food utensils and containers, such as cans, which can chemically alter food due to the use of BPA liners[1]. Instead, Rastafarians opt to use cooking pots and utensils made out of clay or wood.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.


Rastafarians that follow an Ital diet consisting of plants and whole grains, which are the basis of any healthy diet, will find it easier to maintain a healthy weight, and will live a healthier life due to their food choices.

They are more likely to purchase and consume local, organic food, which is significant for many people worried about the rise of genetically modified organisms[2] present in a lot of the mass produced food now found in grocery store.

An Ital diet might not be for everyone, but if you are serious about improving your health using food, supporting local farmers and your local economy, as well as treating your body like a temple, a Rastafarian Ital diet might be the key to the healthier life you’ve been searching for.  ~Angela Gunn



12 Responses

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  3. Patti

    Wow, this is interesting. I never knew there was a diet specific to Rastafarians. Thanks for sharing.

    • InityWeekly

      Yes, and it’s a diet that reflects the current conscious and “green” foodie revolution happening now. Thanks for your comment. Please share the article with your crew! – IW

    • Menelik Wolde

      Yeah mon! Rasta ah de original vegan…we started the whole natural aka ital foods craze! Rasta is always in the right!

      • InityWeekly

        Thanks for your comments! Peace and blessings!

  4. Menelik Wolde

    “Rastafarians who do not follow a very strict Ital diet may also choose to consume other meats, such as chicken” ?? No sah! Rasta nuh eat no chicken, never! ever! If yuh consume chicken, pork, etc. you are not a Rasta…no and ifs are buts! Fire!

  5. Heidi

    Good evening,

    I came across your post, which is great. The photo you’ve used is a photograph of mine which you must have gotten from flickr where it is under my copyright. I am not asking for much but that you credit the photographer.

    Thank you.

    • InityWeekly

      Hello, and thank you for reaching out! Our apologies for not including the credit, as it was pulled online without a name. If you can please email us with your full name and a link to the original picture, we will update the article right away. Thanks again and create a beautiful day!


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